Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Poo what a stink!
At the base of Mt. Shirane is the resort town of Kusatsu. Kusatsu is one of the most famous hot springs towns in Japan, and is one of Gunma Prefecture's primary tourist draws, with highway buses direct from Tokyo. I've been accused of being an "Onsen Otaku" before, and for the most part it is true. I love going to the hot springs baths. It really is just about the most relaxing thing I can think of, even better than going to the beach, and closer too.
The main spring bubbles up right in the center of town, in an area called the Yubatake. The mineral rich water steams as it flows along wooden channels and into a pool, making the whole town center stink of sulfur. There is even a notice that the Yubatake is one of "100 Scenic Spots of Peculiar Smell" in Japan. I do wonder where the other 99 are, and what they all stink of.
The town is jammed to the rafters with onsen, some free, some paid, some indoors, some outdoors. This one here is said to be the oldest in town, and is hands down the hottest bath I've ever almost taken. I say almost taken because I couldn't submerge my legs for more than a few seconds, and sticking my whole body in the water was out of the question. Luckily, there are plenty of other, cooler baths available. One pay complex on the edge of town has an indoor bath, outdoor bath and sauna, and has to be one of the best hot springs I've ever visited, despite the smell.